About multipurposeroom

MultiPurposeRoom deconstructs an idea, a play, a subject, or a topic. We take things apart, we break down stereotypes, and we re-examine the concept of majority. With the pieces left over, we devise, create, and perform our work for an audience to witness the ever-changing blueprint of familiar references. We care about vulnerability and honesty in our work to the highest degree. We strive to connect with an audience emotionally and viscerally because our themes and the plays we choose stem from our own lives and things we care about right now.

Meet-the-Artist: Will

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Full Name:

Will Garrett Detlefsen

Projects I have been involved in with MPR:

Televise THIS!, BUILDINGS., The Birthday Party, YEAR of the HIPPO

How would I describe MultiPurposeRoom, in my own words?

It is my home-base. MultiPurposeRoom is my core family of friends and artists who have similar passions about this thing we call theatre. Our process is also so different from any other project I work on – I think because we have been together so long. These people are definitely collectively my longest romantic relationship.

How/when did I get started with MPR?

I created it with Molly Gillis shortly after seeing the TEAM’s Architecting and having my mind blown open. I had never devised a piece before, so I got 13 actors together one summer and told them I was obsessed with reality TV – and we went from there. I just make this stuff up.

What is my favorite MPR project?

YEAR of the HIPPO is definitely my most personal/autobiographical project, but I also think Televise THIS! could still have a life. Everyone in the company knows BUILDINGS was shaping up to be something I was not into, but the rest of the company is convinced that could be something great. And The Birthday Party was a unique gem of an experience for sure – definitely the most artistically satisfying.

How is MPR’s process different from other processes I’ve been a part of?

We usually have no clue what the thing will look like before we start a project. We always make a list of impossible things we want to see happen on stage on Day 1 of the rehearsal process. We throw around titles for weeks before “discovering” the title of the piece. We usually accumulate hours and hours of writing material before we figure out the theme or story of our plays.

Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR______

loves that people confuse us with NPR.

Where do I see MPR in 10 years?

Hopefully touring multiple shows, winning Obie awards, and teaching young artists the art of devising.

What do I hope MPR’s next project is?

A musical. Starring two 10-year-old kids.

What is most distinctive about MPR?

Our sex appeal.

What movie should have won Best Picture?

Zero Dark Thiry, no question. A close second: Amour

What is my favorite TV show?

I’m so terrible about TV because it is such a time-sucker, but I will say The Office till my death – I don’t care how much oomph they’ve lost this past season – my heart is in it.

What is my favorite book?

Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman haunts me. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand thrills me. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace … oh wait – I STILL haven’t finished that epic, heavy, heavy monster.

What is my favorite album?

Currently? DAUGHTER.

What is my idea of the perfect date?

Being bored together with the person you love and feeling like you don’t want to be anywhere else.

Meet-the-Artist: Noah

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Full Name:

Noah Shalom

Projects I have been involved in with MPR:

Televise THIS!, BUILDINGS., The Birthday Party

How would I describe MultiPurposeRoom, in my own words?

An escape from reality with a new reality where reality bends and twists to form MultiPurposeRoom’s version of reality—that of ‘funprovacotiveawesome’.

How/when did I get started with MPR?

Will sent me a very articulate email during the summer before my senior year….a summer filled with loneliness and The Office, and in this email I saw a chance at the unknown, and then I joined up for Televise THIS! and never looked back.

What is my favorite MPR project?

The next thing that we haven’t done yet.

How is MPR’s process different from other processes I’ve been a part of?

Writing through improvisation has really stuck with me, letting story and character happen out of interactions with each other, and then forming a concise play is just called ‘editing’.

Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR______

Is full of people who don’t just ‘like’ each other… they ‘like like’ each other.

Where do I see MPR in 10 years?

In Los Angeles, with MEEE

What do I hope MPR’s next project is?

Has a Sci-Fi play ever worked? Ever been ATTEMPTED?

What is most distinctive about MPR?

Serious play.

What movie should have won Best Picture?

Saving Private Ryan is better than Shakespeare in Love…….fuckin….come on.

What is my favorite TV show?

Right now, Friends is making a fucking comeback guys. Every episode is filled with gold.

What is my favorite book?

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Murakami has stayed with me for a long time now. Please read this.

What is my favorite album?

“Plans” by Death Cab For Cutie.

What is my idea of the perfect date?

I literally had a dream just 6 hours ago and me and Kate Upton were just like….hanging out, taking about things……………………………………………

Meet-the-Artist: Ariana

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Full Name:

Ariana DiLorenzo

Projects you have been involved in with MPR:

Televise THIS!, BUILDINGS., Connie & Carla

How would you describe MultiPurposeRoom, in your own words?

A collective of young artists using their immediate circumstances to create art that speaks to a universal audience.

How/when did you get started with MPR?

I got started in MPR after the artistic director, Will Detelfsen and I took a class at NYU together. Best run-in ever.

What is your favorite MPR Project?

Televise THIS! Duh.

How is MPR’s process different from other processes you have been a part of?

What I like most about MPR is that we have two processes. 1. Is the creating of the work: improvisation, writing exercises, movement exploration. The show itself is devised from the freedom we have to play in this process. 2. The actual rehearing of the play once the script is finished. This allows the actors to take the show on as a formal script and create character and make acting choices. I think the two processes combine are what make MPR shows special.

Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR_____.

has a really good looking group of company members.

Where do you see MPR in 10 years?

On Broadway, I hope! Or just making theater that is able to tour the world and reach new audiences with each show.

What do you hope MPR’s next project is? 

A show that is “devised” theater under the guise of a true play.

What is most distinctive about MPR?

The subject matter and comedy. There is a youthful quality to the company that sets it a part.

What movie should have won Best Picture?

Argo

What is your favorite TV Show?

Friends and Sex and the City

What is your favorite Book?

Favorite Play: tie between Closer/Barefoot in the Park

What is your favorite Album?

Oof, too many.

What is your idea of the perfect date?

A directionless night with the person you love most.

Meet-the-Artist: Nick

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Full Name:

Nick Smerkanich

 Projects you have been involved in with MPR: 

YEAR of the HIPPO (Hotch), The Birthday Party (Petey), & BUILDINGS. (Jack)

How would you describe MultiPurposeRoom, in your own words?

Start with the cry of a turkey

Enters a man with a longsword (flamberge maybe?)

Man eyes broad expanse of sky

Offers prayer to his war god

He begins to run down the valley

Trips on pebble

Turkey breaks his fall

Man continues to find glory

End with the cry of the turkey

How/when did you get started with MPR?

I had just finished working on Will’s Playwrights’ directing piece Happy Journey from Trenton to Camden and the love affair continues.

What is your favorite MPR Project?

Attacking a written play as complex as The Birthday Party was frightening and wonderful because it allowed us make stronger choices that added growing maturity as a company.

How is MPR’s process different from other processes you have been a part of?

The way we start with such expansive topics, like LOVE or DREAMS and from there just taking that leap and making work. To work from the beginning with such big ideas, makes certain that you will never forget what essence you’re striving for and they will always serve as a safety net in moments of doubt.

Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR ______.

Files taxes? I don’t know. Do we file taxes yet? I feel like we should find that out.

Where do you see MPR in 10 years?

Argentina.

Or the company in residency in some national theatre.

What do you hope MPR’s next project is? 

I like a good Shakespeare.

What is most distinctive about MPR?

The people, always the people in it. The rare blend of playfulness and poetry in the room.

What movie should have won Best Picture?

Really missed the awards this year and didn’t see many of the movies. Still shocked When in Rome starring Kristen Bell was never nominated in 2010.

What is your favorite TV Show?

The early seasons of The West Wing, any made for TV Masterpiece Theatre series, & Community

What is your favorite Book?

Over the Anvil We Stretch by Anis Mojgani

What is your favorite Album?

Any version of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto

What is your idea of the perfect date?

The unexpected date. She shows up unannounced with a bottle of whiskey and we do some damage to the bottle and then go out and get some food. Find a bookstore and find our favorite books to share. Might be sappy, but I like it.

Why Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark is the Best Musical on Broadway

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Here are a few important disclaimers before you read on:

  1. I love superheroes, and Spider-Man is my favorite of them all
  2. I think Julie Taymor is a genius.
  3. I typically don’t love most of the musicals that I see on Broadway.

So the story goes: the musical started at the Foxwoods Theatre and played preview performances for almost an eternity. This made critics mad so they went to see it anyway, already expecting it to fail. It was, at the time, failing pretty hard. I still wanted to see it despite the terrible press and word of mouth. Unfortunately I never got the chance to see the version until after Taymor was fired and significant changes were made to the script. My first encounter with the show was on the day I graduated from NYU when I saw it with my mom and sisters who more or less hated it.

I, however, loved it.

I recently saw the show again this past month with my boyfriend and I loved it even more the second time. Rush tickets are $39 so if you have any interest after reading this, GO GO GO!

Here’s why it’s the best musical on Broadway:

  1. Superheroes flying over audience’s heads for as long as they do in this show is the most badass thing you will ever see live in a Broadway theatre. It looks cool, it looks dangerous, and it actually made me wish I were Spider-Man. More than that, the audience’s reactions are definitely part of why it’s amazing. Hundreds of people in the same room are feeling the same thing. It is a pure, cathartic joy that is so simple and so real.
  1. There were technical difficulties at both performances I saw. (And yes this is why you should go)! This past performance the show was held in the middle of Act I for nearly an hour, and you know what? It was hilarious. If any of you are familiar with the term schadenfreude, it’s exactly that. It reminds you that the thing is live and how often do you see a Broadway show with technical difficulties? It’s a unique commodity.
  1. The vision of this show is not something to joke about. You will not see anywhere else a set as intricate and complicated as this one, you will not see costumes as complex and over-the-top as the costumes in this show, and who can resist an adorable nerd (who is actually pretty hot) singing rock songs (that aren’t half bad) dressed in a sexy latex Spidey suit? I can’t.

So I urge you to go check it out. If you go thinking you’re going to hate it, you will. If you go with an open mind and enjoy the excessive spectacle that is Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, you might leave surprised by how much fun you just had at the theatre. Be sure to block out 4-5 hours because you just never know what might happen…

Meet-the-Artist: Logan

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Full Name:
Logan George
Projects you have been involved in with MPR:
The Birthday Party & YEAR of the HIPPO
How would you describe MultiPurposeRoom, in your own words?
A group of really talented actor- writer- directors that happen to be friends and agree on a lot of ways to go about making theater.
How/when did you get started with MPR?
Will saw me in Molly Gillis’s independent project at ETW and then asked me to audition for Stanley in The Birthday Party. I got cast in that show, and went through the whole production as just a guest actor or something. Will then asked me to help out with YEAR of the HIPPO as it was snowballing into an actual show. And somewhere during the process MPR asked me to be an actual member.
What is your favorite MPR Project?
The Birthday Party. I haven’t seen any of the previous shows, and YEAR of the HIPPO is still in production- so it’s really the only one. But The Birthday Party was my favorite show in college. I remember coming into the theater a hour or two early one day during our run of performances, and feeling like this was a show I would be ok showing up to perform every day for a year. I loved the people I was around and the things I got to do on that stage.
 
How is MPR’s process different from other processes you have been a part of?
Will is definitely our leader and director, but he allows more space than most directors I’ve met to take the lead yourself, challenge popular opinion in the group, work in your own way, have TIME to develop your own thoughts. There’s a lot of space involved in our process right now- and part of that is because we’ve been working on YOTH for over half a year now and there hasn’t been an official end date, so we’ve been allowed the luxury of time, which I think we’re using to our advantage. But I remember even during Birthday Party, having rehearsals where we were supposed to make it through a certain scene, and it would instead turn into an hour long conversation about the relationship between the two characters and what Pinter was trying to say etc. And I think if I was leading that particular rehearsal I would have stopped it at some point to get back to the “work” at hand. But Will trusts all of us as performers so much that we’re allowed to drift towards whatever is resonating on any given day, and that mentality has permeated through the rest of us. It’s an incredibly relaxed and positive work environment. I have such confidence and respect for everyone I share the stage with.
 
Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR _____________
I bet you didn’t know that MPR doesn’t take itself as seriously as the themes we develop make us look like we do.
Where do you see MPR in 10 years?
We’re a really young group of people all just starting out in our careers and it would be naive to think we could keep this up without drastic changes down the road. I’m sure members will leave and new ones will come on like in any company. But I do think Will’s vision for the company grounds it more than other groups of peers that I’ve been involved with. He’s an incredibly dedicated guy. Right now our sole medium is theater. I think in the early days of MPR there was a small foray into the digital realm that has been abandoned for now. But I think in the coming years our modes of performance will change to include more film or site specific performance- at least that’s my hope for us. For now though it feels good to be working almost in secret on a devised play instead of being sidetracked by trying to make the biggest splash in our community.
 
What do you hope MPR’s next project is? 
I know it’ll be a play that’s already been written, which will be a nice relief from YEAR of the HIPPO. I’d want it to be a play that straddles the line between drama and comedy like Birthday Party did. It suits our style so well, when moments can very easily fall on one side or the other depending on the choices we make- and being able to discover those choices by doing the show, not just thinking about it.
 
What is most distinctive about MPR?
When I approach a character I normally look at it as me walking half the distance, and then the character walking half the distance and us meeting somewhere in the middle. With MPR I think the character walks two thirds of the distance to get to me. We bring the characters to shape our bodies and fit our needs, rather than trying to disappear into the character. This isn’t a process we actively talk about- I think Will and I maybe touched upon it once- but I do think it’s something specific to the way we approach a text or generate material.
What movie should have won Best Picture?
Zero Dark Thirty. Argo was a wonderful movie, but it was also an easier film for everyone to get behind. Zero Dark Thirty had higher hills to climb, more social commentary, all these hot button topics, and it avoided all of the pitfalls that surround its genre. It could have very easily been a different experience to watch a movie about such sensitive issues. But instead it was this engrossing two and a half hour movie. I think those are the movies that deserve Best Picture: the movies that beat the odds. Argo was probably the second best though.
What is your favorite TV Show?
Breaking Bad. Friday Night Lights is a close second. If Breaking Bad doesn’t end well the two shows might switch positions. FNL ended so well.
What is your favorite Book?
A Wrinkle in Time. I was all over that book as a kid. Brave New World is also a really good one.
 
What is your favorite Album?
Yikes. So right now the album I listen to all the way through the most is Alt-J’s “An Awesome Wave”. I just heard about them from my roommate and now I recommend them to everyone. You can’t go wrong with them. Other great albums to listen to straight through are The Black Key’s “Brother”. Broken Bells’ self titled album. Phantogram’s “Eyelid Movies”. I love Phantogram so much.
 
What is your idea of the perfect date?
A day long event. You wake up in the city and grab a super early breakfast at 6am from a family owned 24 hour diner before driving out the city. You drive upstate and then hike through some hilly forest and then through an abandoned, derelict train depot. You take a different route back to the car and find a pond that you go swimming in. You didn’t bring towels so you’re soaking wet as you drive back to the city. You have a really early lunch/dinner uptown at 4pm at a really fancy restaurant / wine bar in your wet hiking clothes where you can eat a full 4 course meal cause you’re so hungry from all the hiking and climbing. You share a bottle of wine. You’re drunk before everyone else just as it starts getting dark. You go up to the roof of this great restaurant and it’s a great view of Manhattan. You walk through just a section of Central Park, then walk all the way down to 14th street as the sun sets on the city. You’re sober now for an 8pm movie at IFC or East Village Cinemas or Angelika or the Quad or Film Forum that you haven’t seen any previews for but heard was good and decided to go to on a whim. And it’s the perfect movie for the two of you to see that night, and brings up all the things you’ve been hesitant to talk about till now. It’s 10 or 11 now. You get a couple of drinks at a West or East Village basement bar where there’s a live Jazz band playing. And the singer is really animated and tells amazing jokes in between the songs. So it’s sort of a comedy act and great music all rolled into one. And then you go back to her apartment around 2am and talk on her really comfortable bed, and she’s more drunk than you and falls asleep in your arms. So you tuck her in and then walk around her apartment a bit and get to admire everything she’s hung up on her walls- things you’d never hang on your walls, things you don’t even think are cool, but they are because they’re hers. And then you do some writing and drawing at her desk while she’s sleeping in her bed. And then she wakes up as the sun is just starting to rise. And you have really amazing morning sex, which finally tires you out and makes you realize how exhausted you actually are. And you both fall back asleep in the comfortable bed and wake up at noon.

Meet-the-Artist: Will

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Full Name:

Will Seefried

Projects you have been involved in with MPR:

Televise THIS! & YEAR of the HIPPO

How would you describe MultiPurposeRoom, in your own words?

A visceral brain gymnasium for the young and curious.

 How/when did you get started with MPR?

I was a founding member creating the role of Jackson Demby DiGiesi in Televise THIS!, MPR’s first show.

What is your favorite MPR Project?

YEAR of the HIPPO

How is MPR’s process different from other processes you have been a part of?

MPR’s process is constantly evolving. I have never worked with a company that is so committed to trial and error of new strategies and techniques. Also, MPR is not afraid to create material and then let it go. We have enough material from YEAR of the HIPPO to do a weeklong play!

Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR _____.

member Logan George was hazed upon induction to the company.

Where do you see MPR in 10 years?

Our Audience is a key collaborator. We count on them not just to fill seats and donate money, but inside of the work itself. We attempt to create a dialogue, a communion, and a truly shared experience. In 10 years I’d love to see our work reaching a broader audience, even more aggressively. Particularly with new interpretations of pre-existing texts!

What do you hope MPR’s next project is? 

What do YOU hope it is?

What is most distinctive about MPR?

Will Detlefsen’s lovingly paternal leadership.

What movie should have won Best Picture?

A Single Man. I know I know, wrong year, but I’m still fuming over it.

What is your favorite TV Show?

Comedy: Park and Rec; Drama: Homeland; Reality: King of the Nerds (watchitwatchitNOW)

What is your favorite Book?

Just Kids by Patti Smith

What is your favorite Album?

Any mix from loved ones.

What is your idea of the perfect date?

Dinner in Oia Santorini watching the sunset over the ocean. Drinking local wine, eating food that’s a little too expensive, and sitting for hours…then riding an ATV 4 wheeler across the island as the stars come out arms wrapped around my lover. And YES, I went on this date. #peakedat20

Meet-the-Artist: Molly

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Full Name:
Molly Gillis
Projects you have been involved in with MPR:
Year of the Hippo, The Birthday Party, Televise THIS!
How would you describe MultiPurposeRoom, in your own words?
A group of passionate Beyonce fans. (Oh just me and Will? Mmkay.)
A company of passionate theatre makers, writers, movers, dreamers, cliche loving fools.
How/when did you get started with MPR?
When Will and I sat in the back of a theatre in the West Village as the curtain rose on a terrible play and decided to name the group MultiPurposeRoom. (Will is this true? My memory says yes but my memory sort of has its own mind, ya know what i mean?)
What is your favorite MPR Project?
Can I count warming up as a project? Because my favorite part of all things MPR is warming up.
How is MPR’s process different from other processes you have been a part of?
The MPR process begins with saying YES to about everything and staying with that spirit for as long as humanly possible. So we’re basically doing a revival of Anything Goes constantly (I mean I’ve never seen Anything Goes, but I’m just hoping it’s a musical about people who love saying YES to choices and ideas no matter how bizarre)
Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR _____.
loves to swim.
Where do you see MPR in 10 years?
Sponsored by Red Bull? Actually red bull will probably be illegal then. But that would be fun, to be sponsored by some kind of illegal substance. Would that be an edgy image? We are not edgy at all so maybe we should work on that.
What do you hope MPR’s next project is? 
A remake of Fly Away Home. Kidding. Wooster Group already has the rights.
What is most distinctive about MPR?
We do not take ourselves too seriously. We’re really serious about that.
What movie should have won Best Picture?
The Master. 
What is your favorite TV Show?
Right now, it’s Workaholics. But I should be classy and say The West Wing so yeah that.
What is your favorite Book?
The Book of Mormon. (I’ve never seen it though, how do I get tickets?????)
What is your favorite Album?
This one scrapbook album that my childhood best friend Katlyn made for me we when I turned 16.
What is your idea of the perfect date?
Answering a really great detailed survey. I had a great time tonight. Can we do this again?
But also anytime where I’m laughing with someone. But if that someone were also George Clooney mixed with Jason Seagull’s height and the wit of Seth Meyers….I mean I wouldn’t be mad at THAT you know?

Meet-the-Artist: Tess

red,cute sideFull Name:

Tess Niedermeyer

Projects you have been involved in with MPR:

Televise THIS! & YEAR of the HIPPO

How would you describe MultiPurposeRoom, in your own words?

I would say that MultiPurposeRoom is a theater company directed by a very talented Will Detlefsen with six outstanding actors who all hail from NYU Tisch. MPR is still a very young company in that we are continuing to figure out the impact we want to make not only artistically, but also culturally. MultiPurposeRoom embraces our members’ youth in the theater we reach to create and is fully aware that our view of the world is limited. Through this, MPR uses humor, contemporary dialogue, pop music and unconventional modes of theatrical storytelling to somehow get across who we are in New York City in our twenties.

How/when did you get started with MPR?

I got started with MPR the first day I laid my eyes on Will Detlefsen. Playwrights Horizons Theater School, Purple Group, 2008.

What is your favorite MPR Project?

Definitely YEAR of the HIPPO.

How is MPR’s process different from other processes you have been a part of?

We usually do not have a script. That is a big difference.

Complete this sentence: I bet you didn’t know that MPR _____________

loves donuts.

Where do you see MPR in 10 years?

Still making theater. Hopefully in a better space, with paid artists, collaborating with the upcoming NYC playwrights and choreographers. Some of which may already be in our company.

What do you hope MPR’s next project is? 

I hope it is a classic myth, or a racy comedy. I’m down to laugh.

What is most distinctive about MPR?

Our kick ass talent onstage and off.

What movie should have won Best Picture?

Definitely not Argo, or Lincoln. Zero Dark Thirty or Silver Linings Playbook. I think I disrespect the Oscars about 40% more after this years nominations.

What is your favorite TV Show?

Newsroom. Homeland. The New Girl. Girls.  Game of Thrones.

What is your favorite Book?

The Giver. House on Mango Street. According to those it seems I stopped reading after the 5th grade.

What is your favorite Album?

“Funeral.”  Arcade Fire

What is your idea of the perfect date?

A sunny room, a big bed, and a record player. That’s all I need.